Film ó Mr. & Mrs. Smith (PG-13)


by Amy Diaz

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt give People and Us Magazine subscribers the climax theyíve been waiting for with the release of Mr. & Mrs. Smith, a movie that seems less like an action flick and more like a catalog for really pretty things.

Pretty cars, pretty outfits (both of the conservative and the spyware variety), pretty jewelry, pretty computers, really pretty watches. Oh, yes, and the prettiness incarnate that is Brad Pitt and to a lesser degree Angelina Jolie.

I say to a lesser degree because Jolie looks her very best when she is slightly less pretty, when her sleek designer couture is accented by a sleek black machine gun. She seems far more comfortable blowing stuff up than she does quietly smirking around a suburban palace.

And that, to some degree, is the point of the whole movie. Jane (Jolie) and John (Pitt) Smith politely and quietly live lives of extreme boredom in the upscale suburbs of New York City while their day jobs take them to extreme locales where they carry out their jobs as high-priced assassins. Each is of course brilliant, capable and highly skilled at a variety of spy-type shenanigans but like star reporter Lois Laneís perpetual blindness as to Supermanís true identity, neither husband nor wife has ever cracked the code of their spouseís true day job. So thereís lots of double entendres about their day at work that refer not to the boring desk jobs each assumes the other has but to the building-scaling, dominatrix-posing-as actual work they are doing.

During one job, both Jane and John are assigned to take out a target. Each is irritated when someone else gets in the way of their clean kill and they are given 48 hours by their respective firms to find and assassinate the assassin competition. A few clues lead John to figure out Jane is the girl that kicked his ass and Jane to figure out that John was the boob who got in the way of her kill. The couple meets at home for dinner and thus begins the wink-smirk-fight pattern of the rest of the movie. The Smiths really like their jobs and donít want to fail (which, in assassin parlance, means death) but despite their cooling marriage (the movie begins with the pair in a visit to the therapistís  office) the Smiths begin to realize that they may really like each other.

A few things: (1) I love movies, I couldnít care less about movie star gossip. Whoís making what movie, how much which screen writers are making for a script ó this, Iíll read. Whoís dating whom? None of them are dating me, so Iím pretty disinterested. (2) Should I ever be lucky enough to make a movie, chemistry between two actors ó the ultimate crap-shoot ó is not the foundation on which Iíd build the success of my film. Good chemistry off-screen, between friends or lovers or whatever, does not guarantee good chemistry on-screen. Nor does the simple fact that your two leads are very attractive. On-screen chemistry is some function of each actorís pre-existing charisma plus their approach to the movie plus how seriously the movie takes itself. Itís tricky business. But, when it works, it can make up for a variety of failures elsewhere. (3) Angelina Jolie can be covered in mud, blood and pieces of debris from her shot-to-pieces living room. She can face down a grenade, a smoke boom and a direct hit with a shoulder-launched missile. But not one of these things will ever affect the state of her hair. Itís also perfect, smooth and that sort of sexy-modern update on the Veronica Lake swoop. Itís amazing. Itís as though her hair is covered with some sort of Tephlon/ Kevlar blend.

These are the things that went through my mind as I watched Pitt and Jolie match pouty mouth for arched eyebrow in the rat-a-tat-tat of banter and gun play that is Mr. & Mrs. Smith. The story, which includes a bit of fast talking from Vince Vaughn and Adam Brody, is all about pose and swagger. Itís a conversation about very little that is nonetheless interesting to listen to. A good indication of the kind of movie weíre watching comes when Adam Brody shows up wearing a Fight Club T-shirt. They know we know they know.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith wonít go down as one of the great action movies, the great date movies or the great male-female duo movies. But itís OK and surprises you by rising above its tabloid build-up.

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